Monday, January 30, 2006

Hamas in Palestine

A sad day for dialogue from Guardian Unlimited: News blog: "Comments have been closed on this entry. We automatically close entries to new comments after 2 days to prevent comment spam, or we may have deemed this particular entry unsuitable for open comments. However, you can still make your opinion known by writing on your own weblog, and linking to this page: our system will pick it up."

Ok--pick it up. I don't get this whole Middle East thing. Couldn't we have fixed it --at least before things got this bad--by just sending money? We must have committed scads more to arming Israel, fighting in Iraq, doing all this, then we would have had to spend if we just razed the entire Middle East and turned it into a California style suburb, like Eastlake, Chula Vista?

It's really very simple: send in a crew, build lots of stucco houses and give them to people. Just give them away. Build good maccadam roads. Build an industrial park and bribe multinationals to set up housekeeping with the promise of zero taxes, cheap labor and a batallion of Marines to provide security. Build schools, staff them and pay teachers; build hospitals and pay doctors and nurses. Fix the electricity grid, build sewers, provide telephone service and cable TV. Spend whatever it takes to turn Palestinean territory into a middle class American suburb, give it to the Palestineans and keep pumping in money to keep it going until the local economy is kick started. We fucked up--we pay. And it can't be any more expensive, either in terms of money or in human costs, than dealing with perpetual hostilities in the middle east.

Would people go for this? Would they abandon their native culture to live like Californians or set aside their legitimate grievances at being pushed off their ancestral lands? Jesus Christ of course they would. Can anyone be so stupid to imagine that any rational human being would prefer living in a shitty mudbrick hovel in a refugee camp for whatever reason to enjoying these creature comforts? Can anyone be so besotted with romantic multiculturalist notions as to believe that they would prefer cultivating their ancestral olive groves, transporting their produce to market the backs on donkeys and pooping in pit latrines? Only affluent Americans who have never been without indoor plumbing would even consider the possibility.

Then there is Plan B, which would be even cheaper. Give all Palestineans displaced by--let's be honest--Jewish white settlers, green cards and airlift them to the US. We fucked up--we supported the last colonialist program, we fix it. Would all those Palestineans affiliate with terrorist organizations, work to undermine the US government and to restore the Cailephate? ARE YOU KIDDING??!!?


Anonymous said...

Plan B is more workable and might have been the most generous and imaginative response. But as for plan A -- there just isn't the land. Israel and the West Bank are both tiny, and Gaza may be the most densely populated place in the world, I can't remember. It is certainly one of the most densely populated. What's around it is sand. If most of the west bank is about as naturally desolate as LA, the other bits are even worse. Living like suburban Americans in that kind of climate is incredibly expensive, and there are the rivers that California has to steal the water from.

MikeS said...

This is becoming a trope - give them prosperity and they'll stop whinging. Fundamental error - people carry too much baggage to be grateful in one generation, or even two. Some, hasidic jews for instance, can have many generations of prosperity and peace and still not integrate. I admire your idealism, and your morality however it is grounded - and I still haven't figured that - but in reality there are some cultures that defy reasoning. Incidentally, is it an aberration to abjure the term rational because of its Cartesian implications?

Unknown said...

Trope indeed. It's an empirical question: I think almost all people can almost always be bought off, and gratitude has nothing to do with it.

Hasidic Jews may not integrate, but they don't blow people up either. I'm not sure that quite a few don't leave either--about 1/3 of the Amish, who look pretty much the same and (without high school educations) have a much harder time getting out--leave their communities.

Plan B anyway is, and has been for a while my serious proposal--at least a modified version. A few years ago, the US as a humanitarian gesture airlifted out and green carded Somali Bantus, descendents of black slaves captured by the Somalis I think a century ago. Admittedly there were far fewer of them. But the government did a very nice job of social engineering, settling them in US areas where there was a large market for entry level positions for unskilled workers, finding them apartments and helping them get established.

Now there LOTS more Palestinians. But maybe some liberal European countries could help out. And maybe we could combine Plans A and B--decrease population density in Palestine by shipping out a bunch of people and then build a California style suburb for the rest. There are all sorts of creative solutions if we are cynical enough to consider them seriously, instead of assuming that people have principles and would prefer holy war to flush toilets.

MikeS said...

OK, plan B is the best hope we have, but lets have plan C to deal with the exceptions.
At the risk of being unctuous, please keep on blogging. There is little other than this and a few other select blogs worth reading.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, you aren't aware of the fact that over half of the Jews in Israel are not"white settlers" but Jews whose famillies have lived in the Middle East even longer than the Arabs. After WWI, they fled the newly liberated Arab states where they were being persecuted, and helped develop the then desolate Palestinian Mandate. After 1948, those who had remained were expelled from Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen--places where they had lived for thousands of years--and came to settle in Israel.
You'd better figure that into your "white settler" fantasy.

Unknown said...

Right. But almost half are white settlers and, proportionate to total population, that's more than the white settler population in South Asia or sub-Saharian Africa during the heyday of the British Empire. Then the rationale for colonialism was the same: white settlers would "develop" these territories. For that matter it was the same as the justification Locke suggested for colonizing North America where, he lamented, all that land and all those natural resources were wasted on the Indians who didn't have the wherewithall or the will to develop them properly.

But let's let bygones be gone. Right now the big worry in Israel is that Arabs will out-breed Jews and undermine the project of maintaining a Jewish state. So the Israeli government will never allow the Arabs pushed out in the initial program of ethnic cleansing, or their descendants to return and at the same time tries mightily to recruit Jewish immigrants from the US and elsewhere to immigrate in order to keep Israel a "Jewish state." Anyplace else this would be called racism. Right now Australia which had a comparable policy to encourage white immigration is sitting in sackcloth and ashes, apologizing for that policy and for the head tax on Asians.

Somehow though it doesn't count as racism when Israel does it. Maybe the idea is that turnabout is fair play and that because Jews have been victims of racism they can be as racist as they please. Is that the idea?

Unknown said...

Israel is not by any stretch of the imagination colonialist. They will gladly give up land if it means peace (e.g. Sinai Peninsula). They gave up Gaza even though it didn't mean peace by any stretch of the imagination. They offered to give up almost all of the West Bank in 2000, they didn't ask for reparations or even respect, just legal recognition (as simply existing) by Palestine.

Secondly, they [the Arabs] weren't displaced, Palestine was incredibly sparcely populated, 13% of it was arable land. Jews came in and BOUGHT most of the arable land from the Arabs and developed cities in the swamps and desert. Israel was only established in places where the Jews were a majority.

Thirdly, some idiot claimed that Israel is racist. I'd like to bring your attention to exhibit A: the government of Israel offered full citizenship to all Arabs in the area in 1948, when they were founded. Exhibit B: in 1991, Israel airlifted tens of thosands of at risk Ethiopians into Israel and gave them full Israeli citizenship. And lastly, I would like to point out the fact that all Israelis (Jewish or not) get equal rights in the courts and in the voting booths (10% of the knesset is Arab).

In conclusion, I'm tired of people who don't know what they're talking about constanly criticizing Israel.